I was pleased to see in my inbox this morning big_jay71's second complete, seven-round Mock Draft for Behind the Steel Curtain. To see what changes Jay has made with his second iteration, you can review his first complete mock here. Earlier I posted Rounds 4-7. Here is Rounds 1-3.
1. Carolina Panthers - A.J. Green WR, UGA
2010 1st Pick: Jimmy Clausen QB, Notre Dame (2nd Round)
Team Needs: DT/WR/QB/OG/TE/DE
Analysis: Damn Andrew Luck for forcing me to change my entire mock draft. With Luck staying for another year at Stanford it changes the entire game plan for Carolina. For one it makes the first overall pick not as valuable for trade partners. The Panthers could have taken Luck to be their franchise QB for years to come, or they could've traded it to another QB hungry team and gotten a king's ransom for it. Now they are pretty much locked into this pick and will have to decide between A.J. Green, Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers, Auburn DT Nick Fairley, Alabama DT Marcell Dareus, or LSU CB Patrick Peterson. First off, as much as I love Patrick Peterson I just can't see a CB going first overall. In the end I think they'll take A.J. Green. As far as Fairley is concerned, even though he tore up the SEC this year he was a completely unknown entity before the season began. Thoughts of him being a one year wonder are bound to go through the minds of the front office. And not that Fairley had a bad combine but Dareus was outstanding, however Dareus suffers from inconsistency. Besides that, very few DT's have a big impact in their rookie years and plenty of them that have been taken number one overall have busted. Bowers is a phenomenal talent but Carolina already has a couple of good young players at DE in Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy, although if they don't resign Johnson Bowers will definitely be the pick. A.J. Green is the best WR prospect to come along since Calvin Johnson and has proved his worth all three years at Georgia. Come draft day Jimmy Clausen is going to be a very happy person.
2. Denver Broncos - Patrick Peterson CB, LSU
Team Needs: DT/CB/SS/OLB/RT
Analysis: I was genuinely surprised that Champ Bailey resigned with the Broncos. He seemed dead set on signing with another team. John Fox must be one hell of a salesman. The Broncos have several issues on the defensive side of the ball come the 2011 season. Even with resigning Bailey they still need help in the secondary as 2010 rookie Perrish Cox may be looking at some serious jail time in the near future as well with a pending rape charge. And to add to all of that, 2009 rookie Alphonso Smith (for who the Broncos traded a 2010 first round pick to acquire) was so bad that they traded him away after only a year. Upfront they need a complete overhaul of the defensive line. Fortunately for the Broncos the 2011 draft is loaded with D-line and secondary prospects. I've seen a lot of mock drafts that have the Broncos taking Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers given that new Head Coach John Fox used his first pick in Carolina on another powerful DE in Julius Peppers, especially since they will be switching to a 4-3 defense. But they currently have OLB's Robert Ayers and Elvis Dumervil on the roster and will probably have both of them playing DE in 2011. So this pick really only comes down to Peterson or a DT like Auburn's Nick Fairley or Alabama's Marcell Dareus. While a DT is a bigger need at this point I just think it would be foolish to pass on Patrick Peterson who is probably the best overall talent in this draft, and also probably the best Cornerback prospect to come along since Charles Woodson. He has a great size/speed combo, is equally superior against the pass (in man and zone) as well as against the run, and is a phenomenal return man. At the combine he only cemented his status. Despite registering in at 6'0", 219lbs. he ran a blazing 4.32 40 time and had a 38inch vertical leap.
3. Buffalo Bills - Cam Newton QB, Auburn
2010 1st round Draft Pick: C.J. Spiller RB, Clemson
Team Needs: OT/DE/OLB/WR/CB
Analysis: First off let me just say it pains me to mock Cam Newton to the Bills. With every other draft guru already doing it, it make me feel like a sheep. Anyway it looks as though the Bills will continue their draft ineptitude for another year. With Buddy Nix's ties to the SEC and Chan Gailey's love of athletic QB's it does make perfect sense. While I agree that Ryan Fitzpatrick is not a starting caliber QB I don't think the answer is Newton and Buffalo has so many other needs at this point it's a waste to not take better advantage of their drafting spot. NT Kyle Williams had a great year but he was the exception along the defensive line. Nick Fairley or Marcell Dareus would be perfect fits. As of right now there aren't any offensive tackles in this draft that are worth a pick this high so Buffalo will have to wait to fill that huge void until the second round. Also don't count out A.J. Green if Carolina passes on him. Green is an explosive player that would really open up the Bills offense and they currently have nothing at the position outside of Lee Evans, and yes I'm counting Steve Johnson. Another option would be Texas A&M OLB Von Miller who I've seen mocked to the Bills on a few different web sites.
4. Cincinnati Bengals - Da'Quan Bowers DE, Clemson
2010 NFL Mock Draft Pick: Jermaine Gresham TE, Oklahoma
Team Needs: DE/WR/SS/RB/QB
Analysis: A.J. Green would have been my first option but as he's gone Bowers will be a more than adequate consolation prize. Cincy's pass-rush has been absolutely dreadful this year except for Carlos Dunlap and Bowers would be a great addition. Current DE Antwan Odom is always injured. Given that QB Carson Palmer's skills have eroded drastically over the last couple years it would be smart to cut ties with him and truly start the rebuilding process by drafting his replacement now, especially in light of Palmer's recent desire to be traded as he's fed up with the continual circus that is the Bengals. Unfortunately for the Bengals and Palmer owner Mike Brown is extremely complacent and resistant to change and will probably allow Palmer to play out his contract before finding a new QB. Also CB Jonathan Joseph is a free agent and if he's not retained by the time the draft rolls around the Bengals could give some thought to Prince Amukamara.
5. Arizona Cardinals - Von Miller DE/OLB, Texas A&M
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Dan Williams NT, Tennessee
Team Needs: QB/LT/OLB/OG/CB
Analysis: A lot of mock drafts, including my own previously, have had the Cardinals taking a QB given all of the struggles of Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton. But I believe given enough time Skelton can turn into a quality QB in the NFL. They would be better off signing a veteran like Marc Bulger or trading for Kevin Kolb. Coach Whisenhunt is in hot water already and cannot afford to have another year with a struggling rookie QB. Given the talent available this pick will come down to Miller, or Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara. Prince would give the Cardinals one of the best young CB duos in the league when paired with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and he would replace Greg Toler who has been absolutely dreadful. I'm giving the nod to Miller for several reasons, not least of which is how ancient and anemic Arizona's pass-rush was this past season. On top of that Miller was by all accounts the top prospect at the Senior Bowl, beating all of the "elite" offensive line talent in Mobile, and was even seen being chatted up by the Whiz himself. During the game he did not disappoint and has assured himself a selection in the top ten of the draft. At the combine he even managed to increase his draft stock, if it was even possible, by running a 4.46 40 and dominating the drills.
6. Cleveland Browns - Marcell Dareus DE/DT, Alabama
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Joe Haden CB, Florida
Team Needs: WR/DT/DE/RT/OLB/CB
Analysis: It's no secret that Cleveland's biggest need is for WR's. While Mohamed Massaquoi and Brian Robiskie have shown small flashes of potential neither one of them are ever going to be better than a solid number two at best. Unfortunately I see no way that A.J. Green falls this far and it's too early for Alabama's Julio Jones despite the clinic he put on during the combine. They will probably end up trading back to acquire more picks with someone looking to snag the top QB available. If they do stay here it will most likely come down to the best defensive lineman which would be DE/DT Marcell Dareus. Cleveland will be switching to a 4-3 defense and after cutting both Kenyon Coleman and Shaun Rogers it is imperative that they stock-up. So the player chosen will be whoever Cleveland has ranked higher on their draft board, either Dareus or Nick Fairley. However don't discount Prince Amukamara. Even though Cleveland used a top 10 pick on Joe Haden last year GM Mike Holmgren has a history of taking DB's in the first round. Eric Wright had a disappointing 2010 season and pairing Haden and Prince would give the Browns the best young CB tandem in the NFL.
7. San Francisco 49ers - Blaine Gabbert QB, Missouri
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Anthony Davis OT, Rutgers/Mike Iupati OG, Idaho
Team Needs: QB/CB/OLB/DE/FS
Analysis: With a new coach this pick is going to be a difficult one to make. Obviously this team needs an upgrade at QB. Alex Smith is a pending free agent but Jim Harbaugh may feel he can work some magic with him. Troy Smith has been erratic when given his chances to play. Putting Gabbert here makes me a little uncomfortable because I just don't think he can step in right away and contribute. It's going to take him some time to adjust to the pro game after playing in a gimmicky, spread offense at Missouri. But an interesting tidbit to know is that when Gabbert was a 5-star recruit Jim Harbaugh was putting on the pressure to get him to come to Stanford because he played in a West Coast offense in high school and would've been a perfect fit for Harbaugh's offense. If they pass on Gabbert then Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara would be a great replacement for Nate Clements who's due more than 15 million dollars over the next two years and is likely to be released sometime soon. On the other side Shawntae Spencer is very inconsistent. Aside from a needed upgrade at the Cornerback position they could also use an upgrade over Isaac Sopoaga and Ray McDonald at Defensive End which will cause them to give some consideration to Nick Fairley. And San Fran needs to find players that can also be effective pass-rushers.
8. Tennessee Titans - Nick Fairley DT/DE, Auburn
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Derrick Morgan DE, Georgia Tech
Team Needs: QB/LG/OC/ILB/DE
Analysis: With Vince Young and Jeff Fisher both out at Tennessee this pick has become incredibly hard to pick. They'll probably resign Kerry Collins who's good enough to play another year or two, but they really need someone to develop for the future. With the top two QB's already off of the board I can't see them taking a QB here anyway. Given the headaches this franchise has endured with one running QB I doubt they'll take another in Cam Newton if he's available anyway, but of course owner Bud Adams was so enamored with Young's athletic ability he could see an upgraded 2.0 version in Newton. Ever since Albert Haynesworth left town they've had a hole along the defensive front. Given his rocky relationship in Washington it wouldn't surprise me to see the Titans trade for Haynesworth; of course that can only happen if a new CBA is reached before the draft. Another issue they have is the pending free agency of DE Jason Babin. He's 31 years old and will be looking for a big payday and the Titans will probably not want to pay the price tag. So with the top QB's gone this will come down to the highest rated DT or DE depending on the Babin and Haynesworth situations. Having Fairley slip this far is not a condemnation of his talent but rather acknowledging the rest of the talent at the top of this draft class, especially that of Marcell Dareus who despite weighing in at nearly 20lbs. heavier than Fairley looked just as fluid in his combine drills.
9. Dallas Cowboys - Prince Amukamara CB, Nebraska
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Dez Bryant WR, Oklahoma State
Team Needs: OT/CB/FS/DE/SS
Analysis: The Cowboys biggest needs are at OT, CB, FS, and DE. Free Safety Alan Ball is decent but certainly not spectacular. Cal's Cameron Jordan would be an option to replace Igor Olshansky at DE. Doug Free is marginally good at LT and Mark Colombo is dreadful at RT, someone like Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi would be a perfect replacement for Colombo. At CB, Mike Jenkins was terrible all year and has become a pass-interference machine, and Terrence Newman will be 33 years old before the start of the 2011 season. Dallas will have to send Buffalo a fruit basket for taking Newton and starting a chain reaction that drops Prince Amukamara to them. He'll be great a great addition to fill the deficiencies in the secondary.
10. Washington Redskins - Robert Quinn DE/OLB, UNC
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Trent Williams OT, Oklahoma
Team Needs: QB/WR/NT/DE/RT/OLB/CB/FS/RG/OC
Analysis: Washington has so many needs it's hard to know where to start. QB is their biggest need but with Gabbert and Newton gone they'll need to look in the later rounds to satisfy that need. Clinton Portis has been released and Ryan Torrain is not a full time starter in which case Mark Ingram would make a lot of sense here. And besides that a QB's best friend is a RB. And whoever plays QB in 2011 will need a dependable WR to throw the ball to. Santana Moss is a 32 year old free agent and their best WR. Ingram's Alabama teammate Julio Jones would fit that need well but would be considered a slight reach. On the defensive side of the ball the Redskins need a replacement for Andre Carter who is clearly not cut out to be an OLB in a 3-4 defense. Cameron Jordan would be good to replace Albert Haynesworth at DE. And at CB both Carlos Rogers and Phillip Buchanon are free agents. Quinn is one of the last of the "elite" prospects and would give Washington a fearsome tandem with Brian Orakpo at OLB.
11. Houston Texans - Aldon Smith OLB/DE, Missouri
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Kareem Jackson CB, Alabama
Team Needs: NT/OLB/FS/CB/SS/WR
Analysis: Now that Wade Phillips has been hired to be the new defensive coordinator the Texans will be switching schemes to a 3-4 defense. Not knowing how the Texans will use what they have currently to fill out the new scheme makes this difficult. DeMeco Ryans will play ILB, and Brian Cushing could play inside or outside. Mario Williams will play DE and although he is very athletic he may not be quick enough to play OLB. That will still leave a vacant spot at OLB. Smith is an athletic freak of nature who could play OLB in a 3-4. In a division with Peyton Manning you can never have enough DB's and they really need a replacement for the recently released Free Safety Eugene Wilson, so a DB could also be chosen especially if Brandon Harris is still on the board. They will also need a NT to anchor the middle of their new 3-4 defensive front. Right now it would be a reach for Baylor's Phil Taylor, unless they trade back, so they will need to wait until the second or third rounds for a NT and target Ole Miss' Jerrell Powe, Hampton's Kendrick Ellis, or Stanford's Sione Fua.
12. Minnesota Vikings - Cameron Jordan DT/DE Cal
2010 1st Draft Pick: Chris Cook CB, Virginia
Team Needs: QB/RG/SS/FS/CB/DE/OC/DT
Analysis: The biggest question facing the Vikings in 2011 will be who is playing QB. Favre is definitely gone, Tavares Jackson has never shown that he's consistent enough to be anything more than a quality back-up and he's a free agent, and after a promising start against Philly rookie Joe Webb deflated his value with a dreadful showing against the Lions. In addition to needing a QB the Vikings also need to look for replacements for the Williams' wall as Kevin Williams will be 31 years old and Pat Williams will be a 38 year old free agent. Add to that Ray Edwards will also be a free agent and the Vikings stout D-line could look very different at the start of the 2011 season. They drafted Chris Cook last year but still have a lot of needs in the secondary as Cedric Griffin is very injury-prone and Antoine Winfield will be 34 years old to start the 2011 season. Based on the talent available Cameron Jordan makes the most sense. Ray Edwards probably won't be resigned and 2010 rookie Everson Griffin can't seem to stay out of trouble so Jordan would help keep Minnesota's reputation as having one of the best D-lines in all of football.
13. Detroit Lions - Tyron Smith OT, USC
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Ndamukong Suh DT, Nebraska/ Jahvid Best RB, Cal
Team Needs: CB/OLB/LT/OC/RB/SS
Analysis: The Lions drafting philosophy is always to take the best available player. They could take one of the DE's available like Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan but they already have so much money and talent invested in the defensive line. They really need a CB but after watching Miami's Brandon Harris get burned by Michael Floyd in the bowl game it would be a reach to take him here. They also need someone at OLB to replace Julian Peterson. On offense they desperately need some O-line help soon or Matt Stafford will become the next David Carr. Detroit will never climb up from the basement of the NFL if they can't keep their well-paid and prized QB healthy and upright. The only questions regarding Tyron Smith, about his lean frame from playing the 2010 season at about 290lbs., have already been answered when he showed up at the combine and weighed in at 307lbs. of solid muscle. This franchise can no longer kid themselves into believing that current LT Jeff Backus can anchor the blind side. The only other player that I can conceivably see the Lions taking here is UCLA OLB Akeem Ayers as he would fill a huge position of need and would be one of the best talents available.
14. St. Louis Rams - Julio Jones WR, Alabama
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Sam Bradford QB, Oklahoma
Team Needs: WR/RG/FS/DT/WLB/RB
Analysis: The Rams really need to add weapons for QB Sam Bradford to succeed as well as adding pieces that take pressure off of workhorse back Steven Jackson. Spagnuolo's past success in New York with generating a great pass-rush with lesser talent will probably influence him to forego using a first round pick on the defensive line so I think they will wait until the second round to find a DE to compliment Chris Long. I think this is a little bit early for Jones but he makes the most sense for the Rams. With the exception of the Auburn game he's been fairly inconsistent his whole career at Alabama but he's a supremely gifted athlete. He was definitely the talk of the draft and may have moved himself up on a lot of teams' draft boards. If Spagnuolo does go for a defensive lineman here it'll be Purdue's Ryan Kerrigan. After recently releasing O.J. Atogwe the Rams will have to target a replacement Free Safety in rounds two or three.
15. Miami Dolphins - Mark Ingram RB, Alabama
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Jared Odrick DT/DE, PSU
Team Needs: QB/RB/FS/TE/LG
Analysis: In the 2011 offseason Ricky Williams will be a 33 year old free agent and Ronnie Brown will be a free agent with a history of injury issues. If he's available Mark Ingram would be the perfect option for the Dolphins. Given how ineffective Chad Henne has been at QB it wouldn't surprise me to see them target a QB if one of the top prospects is available. Defensively they could use an upgrade at ILB for the often injured Channing Crowder but that need will have to wait until the later rounds. They will also need to address the free safety position at some point because Chris Clemons can't cover anyone.
16. Jacksonville Jaguars - Ryan Kerrigan DE, Purdue
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Tyson Alualu DT, Cal
Team Needs: DE/FS/SS/CB/WR
Analysis: Personally I think Jacksonville needs to replace David Garrard. Unfortunately the Jags seem to be content with him under Center. They could also use some WR help as well, especially if they don't resign Mike Sims-Walker. On defense they need someone generating a solid pass-rush. Aaron Kampman's body just doesn't seem to be holding up anymore. Kerrigan is a relentless pass-rusher with a great work ethic. They also need help at CB opposite Rashean Mathis as Derek Cox is no longer consistent enough to be counted on. And at both Safety positions the Jags need to find upgrades for Don Carey and Courtney Greene. In the later rounds they'll need to address Offensive Tackle depth after cutting Jordan Black.
17. New England Patriots (via Oakland Raiders) - Anthony Castonzo OT, Boston College
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Devin McCourty CB, Rutgers
Team Needs: OG/LT/OLB/DE/WR/RB
Analysis: Current LT Might Light will be a 33 year old free agent this offseason. The Patriots could move Sebastian Vollmer to the left side but that would create a hole on the right side. It also appears as though Logan Mankins may be traded at some point regardless of the fact that he's been franchised. In addition to the Mankins situation Stephen Neal just announced his retirement. They also could use someone to help generate a pass-rush from the linebacker position. UCLA OLB Akeem Ayers possesses the kind versatility that the Coach loves. Anthony Castonzo makes the most sense with Cameron Jordan off of the board unless they value one of the other 5-technique DE's available.
18. San Diego Chargers - J.J. Watt DT/DE, Wisconsin
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Ryan Matthews RB, Fresno State
Team Needs: OLB/DE/ILB/DE/WR
Analysis: For statistically being first in the NFL in total offense and defense the Chargers have a lot of issues to address in the offseason. On offense they could see their WR corps become seriously depleted with the pending free agency of Malcolm Floyd and eventual trade of Vincent Jackson. A very tempting option would be Pitt's Jon Baldwin. He's a perfect fit for the type of WR the Chargers covet. Defensively they will need to replace pending free agent DE Jacques Cesaire. But more importantly they will need to get someone who can generate a consistent pass rush. Larry English was supposed to be that man, replacing Shawn Merriman, but so far has barely been noticeable. This pick will come down to the top OLB or DE. Previously I would've had Georgia's Justin Houston but after watching him at the combine I don't think he'll be good enough in coverage to play OLB. If Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi is still available he would be the perfect replacement for disappointing RT Jeromey Clary.
19. New York Giants - Akeem Ayers OLB, UCLA
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Jason Pierre-Paul OLB, USF
Team Needs: LT/OC/RB/OLB/OG
Analysis: The Giants need a total overhaul of their linebacking corps. Michael Boley can never seem to stay healthy and Keith Bullock is just plain old. Akeem Ayers fits Perry Fewell's defensive scheme perfectly. On the offensive side they really need a Left Tackle. They drafted William Beatty to fill that need but so far he's been very underwhelming. They could take Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi but he's really better suited to play RT. MSU's Derek Sherrod is another option but I just can't see the Giants passing on someone like Ayers as long as he's available. In the later rounds they'll have to address their needs at Center and Guard. Both Shaun O'Hara and Rich Seubert are entering the final years on their contracts, are 34 and 32 years old respectively, and are coming off of injury plagued seasons.
20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Adrian Clayborn DE, Iowa
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Gerald McCoy DT, Oklahoma
Team Needs: DE/ILB/CB/RT/OG
Analysis: Tampa Bay certainly upgraded the interior of their defensive line with 2010 picks Gerald McCoy and Brian Price but they added nothing to the DE spot. Coming into the 2011 draft this is going to be a huge need for them. Fortunately there is a plethora of quality 4-3 DE's in this draft to choose from. Despite his past off the field indiscretions Clayborn is a relentless pass-rusher who slides due to an inconsistent year. The Bucs could also use a replacement for the ageless wonder Rhonde Barber so with Brandon Harris still on the board I could see the Bucs pounce on him if Clayborn falters during the draft process. And at RT Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi would be an option to replace Jeremy Trueblood.
21. Kansas City Chiefs - Phil Taylor NT, Baylor
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Eric Berry S, Tennessee
Team Needs: NT/OLB/WR/OC/RB
Analysis: Personally I don't think the Chiefs will get far going forward with Matt Cassell as their Quarterback. He's got a very weak arm and his intermediate to deep passes always seem to sail a bit. However given their success I don't think they make a change anytime soon. They also need to add another passing option for Cassell in which case Jon Baldwin and especially Julio Jones would be options. The rest of their issues lie on the defensive side of the ball. Tamba Hali was franchised but they really need another rusher to compliment him. Current Nose Tackle Ron Edwards is a free agent and the Chiefs could certainly use an upgrade over him anyway. GM Scott Pioli hit it big in New England when he drafted Vince Wilfork and will look to do the same with Phil Taylor. Taylor was one of a few who really improved his draft stock at the Senior Bowl by dominating the competition. There are some lingering concerns about his assault charge, which got him dismissed from Penn State, but that was three years ago and he has kept himself out of trouble ever since.
22. Indianapolis Colts - Derek Sherrod OT, Miss. State
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Jerry Hughes OLB, TCU
Team Needs: OT/OG/DT/WR/SS
Analysis: Charles Johnson, Tony Ugoh, and Adam Terry will all be free agents this offseason. Add to that Jeff Saturday will be 36 years old and his body has already started to break down. The Colts are in desperate need of an offensive line overhaul. Sherrod is establishing himself as one of the top OT's in the 2011 draft and is the type of athletic offensive tackle that could be a cornerstone for the rest of Manning's career. They could also target OG's Rodney Hudson or Mike Pouncey, or PSU OC Stefen Wisniewski. Aside from the O-line they could also use an upgrade at DT in which case Stephen Paea would fit their defensive scheme. And after cutting the often-injured Bob Sanders the Colts will probably target another Hawkeye safety in the second or third round in Tyler Sash.
23. Philadelphia Eagles - Gabe Carimi OT, Wisconsin
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Brandon Graham DE, Michigan
Team Needs: CB/OG/OLB/SS/RT
Analysis: Philly's two biggest needs are on the offensive line and in the defensive secondary. Outside of Asante Samuel they really have nothing at CB. Ellis Hobbs has already announced his retirement and Dimitri Patterson was routinely burned. Offensively they need to do a better job of protecting Michael Vick. As far as I see it I think this pick will come down to Florida OG Mike Pouncey, Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi, Miami CB Brandon Harris, or Colorado CB Jimmy Smith. It'll pretty much come down to whichever player Andy Reid covets most and I'm giving them Gabe Carimi as he is a perfect fit. The Eagles will still be able to find a quality CB in the second round and their top priority has to be the protection of Michael Vick.
24. New Orleans Saints - Justin Houston DE, UGA
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Patrick Robinson CB, Florida State
Team Needs: DT/OLB/DE/RB/RT/SS
Analysis: It's a pretty safe bet that the Saints will draft defense here as their offense is as potent as any in the league. Their biggest needs are at OLB and for a DE to play opposite of Will Smith. With the signing of Shaun Rogers the Saints filled their need for a DT to pair with Sedrick Ellis. They could also take an ILB and move Jonathan Vilma to WLB. On offense they could use an upgrade at RT over Jon Stinchcomb. At Runningback they have a lot questions marks. Pierre Thomas is a free agent, Reggie Bush is injury-prone and not worth the money he's making, and Chris Ivory is still pretty unproven. Based on their needs and the talent available Justin Houston makes the most sense. At the combine he looked to be in great shape at a well-defined 270lbs, but didn't look fluid in the Linebacker drills which will probably exclude him from the draft boards of the Chargers and Chiefs.
25. Seattle Seahawks - Brandon Harris CB, Miami
2010 1st round Draft Picks: Russell Okung OT, Oklahoma State/ Earl Thomas FS, Texas
Team Needs: CB/QB/SS/RT/OC
Analysis: Matt Hasselbeck is nearing the end of the line, and Charlie Whitehurst is nothing more than a career clip board holder. There's a reason he could never beat out Billy Volek for the #2 QB job behind Phillip Rivers in San Diego. Pre-Senior Bowl this would have been a prefect spot for Jake Locker. Unfortunately there was no part of the entire week of practice or the actual game that showed anyone he is worthy of first round consideration but he did get a little bit of redemption at the combine. So if they opt to stay with Whitehurst for the 2011 season their attention will shift to the defense where a lot of holes will need to be filled along the front line and in the secondary. Any number of options could come into play here but I'm going with Brandon Harris. Seattle's pass defense is atrocious with the exception of 2010 first round pick Earl Thomas and CB is perhaps their biggest need, especially with Kelly Jennings being a free agent.
26. Baltimore Ravens - Martez Wilson ILB, Illinois
2010 1st Draft Pick: Sergio Kindle DE/OLB, Texas
Team Needs: CB/RT/RG/DE/WR/ILB
Analysis: Offensively the Ravens seem pretty set at every position except for Center and Right Tackle. Current starting OC Matt Birk will be 35 years old at the time of the 2011 draft and Jared Gaither will probably be traded in the offseason. Even though most teams view Florida's Mike Pouncey as a Guard don't be surprised to see the Ravens take him as a Center. With Gabe Carimi already off of the board I can't see any other Tackles being given much consideration. Everyone knows the Ravens biggest weakness is in the secondary. Chris Carr, Fabian Washington, and Josh Wilson will all be free agents this offseason. Last offseason Ed Reed gave some serious consideration to retirement as his mounting injury history is taking a toll on his body and as such 2010 may be his last season. Because of this I would expect the Ravens to possibly target UCLA's Rahim Moore here or Oklahoma's Quinton Carter in the second round. Outside of Terrell Suggs they haven't been able to generate nearly as good of a pass-rush from their linebackers in recent years as well. I know they drafted Sergio Kindle in the second round of the 2010 draft, and it still may be too early to tell whether or not he's going to pan out, but they can't count on him to recover from a serious head injury. They could also use an upgrade at DE over Cory Redding who hasn't been that good in pass-rushing situations. I went with Wilson because he's big, strong, athletic, smart, and plays with a real mean streak, just the sort of player to become the heir to Ray Lewis. At the combine he ran a 4.44 40 at 6'4" and 250lbs. which means he could play OLB as well. It may be considered a slight reach here so expect the Ravens to trade back a few spots to get him at a better value and pick up a few more selections in the process.
27. Atlanta Falcons - Nate Solder OT, Colorado
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Sean Weatherspoon OLB, Missouri
Team Needs: WR/OG/OT/SS/CB/TE/DE
Analysis: The offensive line is a big issue with starters Tyson Clabo, Justin Blalock, and Harvey Dahl all free agents this offseason. And Sam Baker really struggled in 2010 and would be better served playing on the right side. Tony Gonzalez has stated that he's 50/50 on whether or not he's going to retire at the end of the season. If he does the Falcons will need to find a dependable replacement to keep the offense moving in which case Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph would get some serious considerations. After being absolutely abused by Green Bay's offense in the divisional round of the playoffs Atlanta's defense could also use an infusion of talent. DE John Abraham will be 33 years old before the start of the 2011 season. In the secondary they could use an upgrade from William Moore as well as a nickel CB. With the talent available this will come down to Solder and Mike Pouncey. I went with Solder because I expect Atlanta to resign at least one of their free agent Guards at some point, whenever a new CBA is reached, and can find better value in the later rounds at the position. Mike Mayock called Solder the next "Tony Boselli". Personally I don't see it but Solder is an excellent pass-blocker and if he can add some bulk to his extremely lean frame he could become a steal at the end of the first round.
28. New England Patriots - Cameron Heyward DT/DE, OSU
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Devin McCourty CB, Rutgers
Analysis: After addressing the needs on the offensive line with their initial first round pick the Patriots will almost assuredly take a defensive prospect with this pick. Given how much the Patriots like to trade back and acquire more picks it would surprise me if they stayed here. Heyward would fill the large hole vacated by the Richard Seymour trade to Oakland. I don't think the recent signing of Marcus Stroud will have any impact on their draft decisions as Stroud is at the twilight of his career and was probably signed as insurance because of the uncertainty of the CBA. With no pass-rushing OLB's available they could take Pitt WR Jon Baldwin to fill their need for a vertical threat.
29. Chicago Bears - Mike Pouncey OG, Florida
2010 1st Pick: Major Wright FS, Florida
Team Needs: OT/OG/DT/OC/WR
Analysis: Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz finally discovered a play set that doesn't get Jay Cutler killed, however it's only masking the serious deficiencies on the O line. Frank Omiyale can't pass-block, Chris Williams is looking like a bust, and Olin Kreutz is a 34 year old free agent. On the defensive side they could certainly use some help in the secondary and a complimentary pass-rusher to Julius Peppers. And they also need to find a replacement for Tommy Harris at DT. It'll basically come down to whichever Offensive or Defensive lineman that's available and highest on Chicago's draft board. If Mike Pouncey is gone at this point the next available option would be Illinois DT Corey Liuget.
30. New York Jets - Jimmy Smith CB, Colorado
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Kyle Wilson, CB, Boise State
Team Needs: OLB/DE/NT/CB/K/WR
Analysis: The Jets have serious issues along the defensive line. Nose Tackle Kris Jenkins was recently cut after missing 25 games in the last 3 years. Also Defensive End Shaun Ellis will be a 32 year old free agent. They also have a serious need for pass-rushers, especially after cutting Jason Taylor and the woefully disappointing Vernon Gholston. With the run on Defensive Ends and lack of talent at the Outside Linebacker spot the Jets will probably need to move up or down to find a prospect to fit their needs. At CB Antonio Cromartie is a free agent, and with so many other free agents that are of a higher priority that need to be signed, the Jets will need to find a replacement. Offensively they are relatively set except that they'll probably need a WR to replace Santonio Holmes or Braylon Edwards, whichever the Jets let walk in free agency. Of course it's almost an absolute certainty that if one of them isn't resigned it'll be Edwards. With the release of Damien Woody they are now in the market for a Right Tackle as well.
31. Pittsburgh Steelers - Benjamin Ijalana OG/OT, Villanova
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Maurkice Pouncey OC, Florida
Team Needs: RG/CB/OT/DE/P/NT
Analysis: By now every Steelers fan knows their weaknesses and what the team needs to be focusing on come draft day. In the secondary the team needs to find a solid CB to play with Ike Taylor. And Taylor himself is on the wrong side of 30 and a free agent. Bryant McFadden has been very poor in coverage and has become injury prone. Willie Gay is barely serviceable as a nickel CB. Hopefully Crezdon Butler will make strides in his second year but that can't be counted on. On the defensive line age has become a very big concern. Aaron Smith has missed a significant portion of the season for the second time in 3 years. After a very slow start to his career Ziggy Hood has come on as of late. But with the run on 3-4 DE prospects there's just no first round value left at the position. Also NT Casey Hampton will turn 34 years old by the start of the 2011 season. The biggest issue by far is on the offensive line. Outside of rookie Maurkice Pouncey every other position has been a struggle just about all year. Both starting OT's ended the season on I.R. LT Max Starks, even when healthy, is only an above average option and would be better suited at RT. Willie Colon, who suffered a ruptured Achilles, will be a free agent and has been looking to cash in. The most pressing issue has been at RG where we have seen a revolving door of players such as Trai Essex, Ramon Foster, and Doug Legursky unable to stabilize the position or capitalize with their chance to start. Mike Pouncey would be the perfect fit and seems to be destined to join his brother in Pittsburgh. And as I've stated in previous mock drafts, when it comes time for contract renewals both brothers might take a discount to continue playing on the same team which would be a good added bonus.
The problem for the Steelers is that there are several teams ahead of them that could also use Mike Pouncey's services and in this mock draft the Bears beat us to him. However I expect the Steelers to make a move up for him come draft time. But since I don't do trades in my mock draft I've given the Steelers the next best option in Ben Ijalana. He's a small-school prospect but looked very good at the combine. So good in fact that he may even be able to play RT if needed. That sort of versatility would only make him more enticing to the Steelers front office. So just to recap, the top targets for the Steelers in the first round of the 2011 draft will be (in no particular order) Wisconsin OT Gabe Carimi, Florida OG Mike Pouncey, OSU DE Cameron Heyward, Miami CB Brandon Harris, Colorado CB Jimmy Smith, and Baylor NT Phil Taylor. And of course I'm not counting those players who the Steelers have no chance of getting such as Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, and Cameron Jordan.
32. Green Bay Packers - Muhammed Wilkerson DT, Temple
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa
Team Needs: OLB/LG/RB/DE/OT
Analysis: The Packers will have a few holes to fill come the 2011 draft. For one they need to find a replacement for Ryan Grant. James Starks was good in the playoffs but he has a long injury history and even if he pans out they'll still need someone to compliment him. Perhaps one of their biggest needs is for someone other than Clay Matthews to apply pressure. At defensive end Cullen Jenkins is a free agent and Johnny Jolly will be a free agent next year. And even with the drafting of Bryan Bulaga in the first round last year they still need help along the offensive line. OT Chad Clifton is nearing retirement. The bigger need is at OG. Daryn Colledge is a free agent and not very good anyway. However there are plenty of solid Guards that will be available in the next two rounds. As I've already stated Wilkerson is quietly rising on many people's draft boards and is a perfect fit as a 5-technique DE.
33. New England Patriots (via Carolina Panthers) - Torrey Smith WR, Maryland
New England lacks a deep threat. They franchised Logan Mankins but if he's traded this pick will be the best available OG. Torrey Smith has inconsistency issues due to his small hands but he ran a 4.37 40 and posted a 41inch vertical at the combine.
34. Buffalo Bills - Corey Liuget DT/DE, Illinois
I would love to give Buffalo an OT here as they need 2 starters at the position. Unfortunately there just aren't anymore prospects available that are worth this pick. Now it'll come down to the best available DE or pass-rushing OLB. If the Bills cut Lee Evans to save the 8mil he's owed then the most likely selection would be Pitt's Jon Baldwin.
35. Cincinnati Bengals - Ryan Mallett QB, Arkansas
The Bengals need to plan for the future after Carson Palmer, which could be the 2011 season if Palmer gets his way. Even if he is there for 2011 Mallett will be tough to pass on at this point in the draft. He has the size and arm strength of a top five pick, but he still needs a lot of work on his throwing motion and footwork. And on top of that there are lingering issues about off the field concerns. While he was standoffish to the media during the combine he's reportedly been well-received during team interviews. Fortunately for Mallett the Bengals never shy away from players with character concerns anyway. If the Bengals go in any other direction they could take the top rated RB if they fail to resign Cedric Benson.
36. Denver Broncos - Rahim Moore FS, UCLA
Brian Dawkins just can't cut it anymore.
37. Cleveland Browns - Jonathan Baldwin WR, Pittsburgh
This pick is a given as Cleveland's biggest need is for WR's. Baldwin ran a 4.45 40 at the combine proving doubters wrong about his lack of speed. He could easily go higher than this, possibly in the first round to a team like San Diego who covets tall WR's.
38. Arizona Cardinals - Marcus Cannon OG/OT, TCU
The Cardinals have one of the worst offensive lines in all of football. He would be an upgrade at OG over the rapidly declining Alan Faneca. At the combine Cannon showed up at a surprisingly fit 6'6", 358lbs. He also has decent enough athletic ability that he might be able to play RT.
39. Tennessee Titans - Jake Locker QB, Washington
After missing out on Blaine Gabbert in the first round Tennessee can't afford to let Locker get by them. He'll need to sit a year and learn behind Kerry Collins.
40. Dallas Cowboys - Quinton Carter FS, Oklahoma
Current free safety Alan Ball was awful this past year.
41. Washington Redskins - Mikel Leshoure RB, Illinois
The Redskins just cut Clinton Portis.
42. Houston Texans - Ras-I Dowling CB/S, Virginia
With no NT's available, this pick will come down to the BPA at CB or Safety. Dowling left the combine early due to a pulled hamstring but not before running a 4.40 40.
43. Minnesota Vikings - Christian Ponder QB, FSU
With Favre and Tavares Jackson gone, leaving Joe Webb at QB, the Vikings have to look for a long-term option. Ponder's arm strength is only average but he was the best QB at the Senior Bowl as well as at the combine during drills.
44. Detroit Lions - Stefen Wisniewski OC/OG, Penn State
The Lions always take BPA and The Wis is better than the available CB's left. They need an upgrade over Dominic Raiola at Center.
45. San Francisco 49ers - Brooks Reed DE/OLB, Arizona
The 49ers have to find someone to generate a consistent pass-rush.
46. Denver Broncos (via Miami Dolphins) - Stephen Paea DT, Oregon State
Denver fills their biggest need. Paea broke the combine record in the bench press by doing 49 reps.
47. St. Louis Rams - Kyle Rudolph TE, Notre Dame
St. Louis might have bigger needs at this point but they can't pass up the opportunity to take the best TE and add another weapon for Sam Bradford.
48. Oakland Raiders - DeMarcus Van Dyke CB, Miami
2010 1st round Draft Pick: Rolando McClain ILB, Alabama
Team Needs: CB/RT/LG/OC/TE/WR
Analysis: When Oakland cut Nnamdi Asomugha this pick became pretty easy to predict. They will have to take the best CB available. After giving Oakland a lot of respect for their 2010 draft I thought that as a franchise they had finally righted the ship, but after cutting Nnamdi Asomugha and giving Stanford Routt a 3-year/32mil contact I'm convinced Al Davis is no longer on his meds and as such I'm going back to mocking them combine warriors like Van Dyke who ran a 4.33 40 but is probably the 10th rated CB prospect.
49. Jacksonville Jaguars - Aaron Williams CB, Texas
This pick will be the top rated CB or Safety prospect available. Williams ran a decent 40 time (4.52) but didn't look very fluid in his drills which will probably facilitate his switch to Safety.
50. San Diego Chargers - Sam Acho DE/OLB, Texas
The Chargers need to generate some kind of a pass-rush.
51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - Mason Foster OLB, Washington
Barrett Ruud and Quincy Black are both free agents.
52. New York Giants -Ryan William RB, Virginia Tech
Ahmad Bradshaw can't stay healthy for an entire season
53. Indianapolis Colts - Tyler Sash SS, Iowa
Indy replaces Bob Sanders with another Iowa Hawkeye.
54. Philadelphia Eagles - Curtis Brown CB, Texas
Philly needs CB's with the retirement of Ellis Hobbs and general sucking by Dimitri Patterson.
55. Kansas City Chiefs - Leonard Hankerson WR, Miami
K.C. has no one at WR besides Dewayne Bowe.
56. New Orleans Saints - Bruce Carter OLB, UNC
Scott Shanle needs to be replaced and Carter is the perfect WLB.
57. Seattle Seahawks - Rodney Hudson OG, Florida State
Seattle needs to revamp their offensive line.
58. Baltimore Ravens - Titus Young WR, Boise State
Baltimore lacks a deep threat at WR.
59. Atlanta Falcons - Johnny Patrick CB, Louisville
I know they have bigger needs but Patrick is a much better value. As Green Bay showed them, they have no depth at CB behind Dunta Robinson and Brent Grimes.
60. New England Patriots - Clint Boling OG, UGA
Stephen Neal retired, leaving a hole at RG.
61. San Diego Chargers (via New York Jets) - Joseph Barksdale OT, LSU
The Chargers need an upgrade over Jeremy Clary at right tackle.
62. Chicago Bears - Marvin Austin DT, North Carolina
Tommy Harris' poor play got him benched during the 2010 season and recently released. During the combine Austin showed first round talent but still comes with some baggage, however he's worth it at the end of the second round.
63. Pittsburgh Steelers - Randall Cobb WR/RB/PR, Kentucky
I would love to give the Steelers a CB here, unfortunately the value just isn't there. Current third down back Mewelde Moore is a free agent and just isn't cutting it anymore. Randall Cobb is a steal here and I've seen some mock drafts, including the Sun Tan Man himself (ESPN's Todd McShay) that have Cobb going in the late first round. At Kentucky Cobb was a do-it-all type of player like Dexter McCluster. He's incredibly fast/quick/shifty, can play RB and WR, and is deadly when returning punts.
64. Green Bay Packers - Danny Watkins OG, Baylor
Daryn Colledge is a free agent. Watkins would be the second rated OG in this draft if it weren't for the fact that he's already 27 years old. But for a team like the Packers with so few real needs it shouldn't be a big issue.
65. Carolina Panthers - Drake Nevis DT, LSU
Carolina needs multiple DT's. If they take Nick Fairley or Marcell Dareus with the first overall pick look for Carolina to take the best available WR like Boise State's Austin Pettis or Indiana'a Tandon Doss.
66. Cincinnati Bengals - DeAndre McDaniel S, Clemson
Roy Williams is a huge liability in coverage.
67. Denver Broncos - Marcus Gilbert OT, Florida
Ryan Harris is a free agent and injury-prone.
68. Buffalo Bills - Chris Hairston OT, Clemson
Buffalo needs upgrades at both Tackle spots.
69. Arizona Cardinals - Brandon Burton CB, Utah
The Cardinals need an upgrade over Greg Toler.
70. Cleveland Browns - Jabaal Sheard, DE, Pittsburgh
The Browns will have to stock up on D-linemen for their conversion to the 4-3 defense.
71. Dallas Cowboys - Jason Pinkston OT, Pittsburgh
Marc Colombo is a free agent and pretty awful anyway.
72. New Orleans Saints (via Washington Redskins) - Jacquizz Rodgers RB, Oregon State
Rodgers is the perfect style RB for the Saints offense.
73. Houston Texans - Jerrell "Boom Boom" Powe NT, Ole' Miss.
The Texans need a NT for their conversion to the 3-4 defense.
74. New England Patriots (via Minnesota Vikings) - Shane Vereen RB, Cal
This is pretty much a BPA situation. Danny Woodhead is a nice story but N.E. could use an upgrade at the position.
75. Detroit Lions - Rashad Carmichael CB, Virginia Tech
Detroit needs CB's, especially if they don't resign Chris Houston.
76. San Francisco 49ers - Christian Ballard DE/DT, Iowa
S.F. could use an upgrade over Isaac Sopoaga.
77. Tennessee Titans - Quan Sturdivant LB, North Carolina
The Titans will most likely not resign Stephen Tulloch.
78. St. Louis Rams - Jarvis Jenkins DT, Clemson
Gary Gibson needs to be replaced, he just isn't big enough to play on running downs.
79. Miami Dolphins - Luke Stocker TE, Tennessee
Anthony Fasano just isn't cutting it.
80. Jacksonville Jaguars - Tandon Doss WR, Indiana
Mike Sims-Walker is a free agent and will probably not resign.
81. Oakland Raiders - Orlando Franklin OG/OT, Miami
Robert Gallery and Langston Walker are both free agents.
82. San Diego Chargers - Kelvin Sheppard ILB, LSU
All of San Diego's ILB's are free agents.
83. New York Giants - Jake Kirkpatrick OC, TCU
Shaun O'Hara will be a 34 year old free agent next offseason.
84. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - John Moffitt OG/OC, Wisconsin
Tampa has a hole at LG and OC Jeff Faine is injury-prone.
85. Philadelphia Eagles - Davon House CB, New Mexico State
Philly will need to double-dip at CB.
86. Kansas City Chiefs - Daniel Thomas RB, Kansas State
K.C. could use a more effective and less expensive power RB than Thomas Jones.
87. Indianapolis Colts - Austin Pettis WR, Boise State
Reggie Wayne will be 33 years old this coming season, Anthony Gonzalez can't seem to stay healthy, and Austin Collie may be forced to retire if he gets another concussion.
88. New Orleans Saints - Robert Sands SS, West Virginia
The Saints need an upgrade over Roman Harper.
89. San Diego Chargers (via Seattle Seahawks) - Shareece Wright CB, USC
The Chargers need an upgrade at Nickel CB.
90. Baltimore Ravens - Darryl Skrine CB, UT-Chattanooga
Baltimore has three CB's that are free agents.
91. Atlanta Falcons - Edmund Gates WR, Abilene Christian
Atlanta needs an upgrade over Harry Douglas and Michael Jenkins.
92. New England Patriots - Dontay Moch DE/OLB, Nevada
With every other need seemingly taken care of already the Patriots can afford to take a risk on a combine warrior like Moch.
93. Chicago Bears - James Brewer OT, Indiana
Chicago needs to double, and maybe triple-dip into the O-lineman talent pool.
94. New York Jets - Allen Bailey DE/DT, Miami
Shaun Ellis is a 34 year old free agent.
95. Pittsburgh Steelers - Richard Sherman CB/FS, Stanford
Pittsburgh has to come away with at least one CB in this draft, make that two if they don't resign Ike Taylor. Sherman had a decent 40 time (4.50) at the combine with good size at 6'3", 195lbs. and had a good Senior Bowl performance. He also has the versatility to play free safety.
96. Green Bay Packers - Jordan Todman RB, UConn
Brandon Jackson is a free agent and both James Starks and Ryan Grant have an injury history.